Untiring all the weary day
The widow toiled with care,
And scarcely cleared her furrowed brow
When came the hour of prayer;
The voices, that on every side,
The prisoned soul call forth,
And bid it in its freedom walk,
Rejoicing in the earth;
Fall idly on a deafened ear,
A heart untaught to thrill
When music gusheth from the bird,
Or from the crystal rill;
She moves unheeding by the flower
With its ministry of love,
And feels no sweet companionship,
With silent stars above.
Alas! that round the human soul
The cords of earth should bind,
That they should bind in darkness down
The light—discerning mind—
That all its freshness, freedom, gone,
Its destiny forgot,
It should, in gloomy discontent,
Bewail its bitter lot.
But Eva, while she turned the wheel,
Or toiled in homely guise,
With buoyant life was all abroad,
Beneath the pleasant skies;
And sang all day from lightsome heart,
From joy that in her dwelt,
That evermore the soul is free,
To go where joy is felt.
All lowly and familiar things
In earth, or air, or sky,
A lesson brought to Eva's mind
Of import deep and high;
She learned, from blossom in the wild,
From bird upon the wing,
From silence and the midnight stars,
Truth dwells in everything.
The careless winds that round her played
Brought voices to her ear,
But Eva, pure in thought and soul,
Dreamed never once of fear—
The whispered words of angel lips
She heard in forest wild,
And many a holy spell they wrought,
About the Sinless Child.
And much she loved the forest walk,
Where round the shadows fell,
The solitude of mountain height,
Or green and lowly dell;
The brook dispensing verdure round,
And singing on its way,
Now coyly hid in fringe of green,
Now wild in sparkling play.
She early marked the butterfly,
That gay, mysterious thing,
That, bursting from its prison-house
Appeared on golden wing;
It had no voice to speak delight,
Yet on the floweret's breast,
She saw it mute and motionless,
In long, long rapture rest.
She said, that while the little shroud
Beneath the casement hung,
A kindly spirit lingered near,
As dimly there it swung;
That music sweet and low was heard
To hail the perfect life,
And Eva felt that insect strange
With wondrous truth was rife.
It crawled no more a sluggish thing
Upon the lowly earth;
A brief, brief sleep, and then she saw
A new and radiant birth;
And thus she learned without a doubt,
That man from death would rise,
As did the butterfly on wings,
To claim its native skies.
The rainbow, bending o'er the storm,
A beauteous language told;
For angels, twined with loving arms,
She plainly might behold,
And in their glorious robes they bent
To earth in wondrous love,
As they would lure the human soul
To brighter things above.
The bird would leave the rocking branch
Upon her hand to sing,
And upward turn its fearless eye
And plume its glossy wing,
And Eva listened to the song,
Till all the sense concealed
In that deep gushing forth of joy,
Became to her revealed.
And when the bird a nest would build,
A spirit from above
Directed all the pretty work,
And filled its heart with love.
And she within the nest would peep
The colored eggs to see,
But never touch the dainty things,
For a thoughtful child was she.
Much Eva loved the twilight hour,
When shadows gather round,
And softer sings the little bird,
And insect from the ground;
She felt that this within the heart
Must be the hour of prayer,
For even earth in quietude
Did own its Maker there.
The still moon in the saffron sky
Hung out her silver thread,
And the bannered clouds in gorgeous folds
A mantle round her spread.
The gentle stars came smiling down
Upon the brilliant sky,
That looked a meet and glorious dome,
For worship pure and high;
And Eva lingered, though the gloom
Had deepened into shade;
And many thought that spirits came
To teach the Sinless Maid,
For oft her mother sought the child
Amid the forest glade,
And marvelled that in darksome glen,
So tranquilly she stayed.
For every jagged limb to her
A shadowy semblance hath,
Of spectres and distorted shapes,
That frown upon her path,
And mock her with their hideous eyes;
For when the soul is blind
To freedom, truth, and inward light,
Vague fears debase the mind:
But Eva like a dreamer waked,
Looked off upon the hill,
And murmured words of strange, sweet sound,
As if there lingered still
Ethereal forms with whom she talked,
Unseen by all beside;
And she with earnest looks, besought
The vision to abide.
'Oh Mother! Mother! do not speak,
Or all will pass away,
The spirits leave the green-hill side,
Where light the breezes play;
They sport no more by ringing brook,
With daisy dreaming by;
Nor float upon the fleecy cloud
That steals along the sky.
It grieves me much they never will
A human look abide,
But veil themselves in silver mist
By vale or mountain side.
I feel their presence round me still,
Though none to sight appear;
I feel the motion of their wings,
Their whispered language hear.
With silvery robe, and wings outspread,
They passed me even now;
And gems and starry diadem
Decked every radiant brow.
Intent were each on some kind work
Of pity or of love,
Dispensing from their healing wings
The blessings from above.
With downy pinion they enfold
The heart surcharged with wo,
And fan with balmy wing the eye
Whence floods of sorrow flow;
They bear, in golden censers up,
That sacred gift, a tear;
By which is registered the griefs,
Hearts may have suffered here.
No inward pang, no yearning love
Is lost to human hearts,
No anguish that the spirit feels,
When bright-winged hope departs;
Though in the mystery of life
Discordant powers prevail;
That life itself be weariness,
And sympathy may fail:
Yet all becomes a discipline,
To lure us to the sky;
And angels bear the good it brings
With fostering care on high,
Though human hearts may weary grow,
And sink to toil-spent sleep,
And we are left in solitude,
And agony to weep:
Yet they with ministering zeal,
The cup of healing bring,
And bear our love and gratitude
Away, on heavenward wing;
And thus the inner life is wrought,
The blending earth and heaven;
The love more earnest in its glow,
Where much has been forgiven!
I would, dear Mother, thou couldst see
Within this darksome veil,
That hides the spirit-land from thee,
And makes our sunshine pale;
The toil of earth, its doubt and care,
Would trifles seem to thee;
Repose would rest upon thy soul.
And holy mystery.
Thou wouldst behold protecting care
To shield thee on thy way,
And ministers to guard thy feet,
Lest erring, they should stray;
And order, sympathy, and love,
Would open to thine eye,
From simplest creature of the earth
To seraph throned on high.
E'en now I marked a radiant throng,
On soft wing sailing by,
To sooth with hope the trembling heart,
And cheer the dying eye;
They smiling passed the lesser sprites,
Each on his work intent;
And love and holy joy I saw
In every face were blent.
The tender violets bent in smiles
To elves that sported nigh,
Tossing the drops of fragrant dew
To scent the evening sky.
They kissed the rose in love and mirth,
And its petals fairer grew,
A shower of pearly dust they brought,
And o'er the lily threw.
A host flew round the mowing field,
And they were showering down
The cooling spray on the early grass,
Like diamonds o'er it thrown;
They gemmed each leaf and quivering spear
With pearls of liquid dew,
And bathed the stately forest tree,
Till his robe was fresh and new.
I saw a meek-eyed creature curve
The tulip's painted cup,
And bless with one soft kiss the urn,
Then fold the petals up.
A finger rocked the young bird's nest,
As high on a branch it hung.
And the gleaming night-dew rattled down,
Where the old dry leaf was flung.
Each and all, as its task is done,
Soars up with a joyous eye,
Bearing aloft some treasured gift—
An offering ON HIGH.
They bear the breath of the odorous flower,
The sound of the bright-sea shell;
And thus they add to the holy joys
Of the home where spirits dwell.